Turning Points Magazine & Devotional

December 2023 Issue

Season of Joy

From the November 2023 Issue

Special Delivery: Angels for Our Final Journey

Special Delivery: Angels for Our Final Journey

Billy Graham once described the death of his maternal grandmother. He said her room seemed to fill with heavenly light. She sat up in bed and almost laughingly said, “I see Jesus. He has His arms outstretched towards me. I see Ben [her deceased husband], and I see the angels.” Then she slumped over, absent from the body but present with the Lord.1

Dr. Graham later wrote, “Just as an angel was involved in Christ’s resurrection, so will angels help us in death. Only one thin veil separates our natural world from the spiritual world. That thin veil we call death. However, Christ both vanquished death and overcame the dark threats of the evil fallen angels. So now God surrounds death with the assurance of angelic help to bring pulsing life out of the darkness of that experience for believers.”2

Angels are ministering spirits sent to serve the heirs of salvation.

Trudy Harris, a hospice nurse, wrote of tending to a 54-year-old woman dying of inoperable cancer. The woman lay on pillows surrounded by flowers. She suddenly pointed to the corner of the room and said, “Ms. Nurse, this big angel comes and stands by my bed. Right here. He’s always smiling at me.”

Trudy said, “Years before, when I started working as a hospice nurse, I might have hesitated answering her question. I knew all too well the effects of medication and exhaustion on a dying brain. That day, though, I knew exactly what to say. I knew, because years of working with people at the end of their lives had taught me a new, more helpful and, I believe, more truthful understanding of death. I knew Lenora was seeing more, not less, than the rest of us.”3

A Presbyterian preacher of yesteryear, Michael Matthews, wrote, “Christ appoints a convoy of angels to attend the departing souls of His saints and to conduct them to eternal glory above. The presence of the glorified body of Christ is in heaven, and the holy angels are sent to bring the souls of believers to Him. Those very angels that stand before the throne of Christ, at His command, joyfully descend to this lower state of mortality as ministering spirits to all the heirs of glory. He tells them to go down to such a place and attend this or that dying servant of Mine, and take care of him, and bring him hither into your society. With what joy will they come to any believer, at whose conversion they rejoiced, to fetch him into the communion of heaven!4

Christians of earlier eras published books describing the deathbed scenes of God’s children. This seems odd to us now in our day of medications and end of life procedures, but most Christians in former years died at home without anesthesia with their loved ones around their beds. Many of these saints spoke of seeing angels at the time of their departure. One fourteen-year-old girl named Sophia Trentham exclaimed as she was dying, “See! See! There are angels! There are angels!” Then her lips began moving and she was heard to say more quietly, “I am coming! I am coming!” And with that she passed away.5

My friend, Robert Morgan, told me of an experience he had early in his pastoral ministry involving an elderly woman, Mrs. Agnes Frazier. She was the oldest member of his church and a woman of deep piety and enthusiastic spirituality. At age 95, her health failed, and he received a call. “Mrs. Agnes is asking for you,” said her nurse.

When God creates the new heavens and the new earth, the physical and spiritual realms will merge.

When Rob entered her bedroom, she was almost too weak to look up at him. Her words were indistinct at times, but it soon became clear that she had wanted to see him because she was curious about “these men.”

“What men?” he asked.

“I keep seeing these two men,” she said.

His angels are around us, and His care for us never ceases.

“What do they look like?”

“Two men, dressed in white from head to foot are standing at the end of my bed. I don’t know what to tell them. What should I say if they ask me something?”

“Tell them,” he said, “that you belong to Jesus.”

That seemed to satisfy her. “Yes,” she said, “I’ll tell them I belong to Jesus.” Shortly after, she fell asleep in Christ, and those two angels ushered her to heaven.

I have no doubt that many of the people reading this article are aware of similar experiences among their grandparents or loved ones. Not every dying Christian sees an angel, but the accounts of those who do comfort all the rest of us.

I want to hasten to say that we don’t base our faith on human testimony. Stories such as I have told you are intriguing and encouraging, but they don’t serve as the foundation of our hope. I’ve heard accounts of people who during near-death situations seemed to get a glimpse of heaven. I’ve also read of others who got a terrifying glimpse of hell. My job is not to prove or disprove these testimonies. I’ll listen to them with interest, but I go to the Bible alone for reliable information about what happens in the moments surrounding our departure from this life.

Let me tell you three things the Bible says.

First, according to Jesus, when the beggar Lazarus died, angels carried him to join Abraham in the heavenly places (Luke 16:22). Jesus spoke matter-of-factly, in a way that seemed to indicate this was standard procedure for the children of God. Furthermore, it’s what we would expect. The Lord knows that death is a tremendous enemy, one that makes us apprehensive and one He defeated by His own death and resurrection. Hebrews 1:14 says that angels are ministering spirits sent to serve the heirs of salvation. If angels help us throughout our life, how much more valuable are they at the moment of death when our soul flies through the heavenlies to be with our Savior!

Second, we know that angels will be there to assist us at the moment of the resurrection and the Rapture. Jesus will come in glory with His angels (Matthew 16:27). He will come in the clouds with power and great glory, accompanied by His angels (Matthew 24:30-31). Paul said the Rapture would include a shout, with the voice of the archangel (1 Thessalonians 4:16). According to 2 Thessalonians 1:7, Christ will be “revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels” (NIV). It would seem that the same angels that transport our souls to heaven will later do the same with our raptured or resurrected bodies.

Third, I believe angels will be our neighbors and friends forever in heaven. In the book of Revelation John almost made the mistake of falling down and worshiping an angel, but the angel told him not to worship him. He said, “I am your fellow servant” (19:10). When God creates the new heavens and the new earth, the physical and spiritual realms will merge. We will see New Jerusalem with our eyes, we’ll hear its music with our ears, and we’ll view things that are invisible to us now.

Paul said that when he was caught up into paradise he heard inexpressible words (2 Corinthians 12:4). When the apostle John was caught up into heaven, he saw all the angelic hosts and heard their shouts of praise (Revelation 4:8). We will be fellow servants and fellow worshipers with the angels before the glorious throne and neighbors up and down the streets of that city.

What a comfort this is to us in our final moments of life. The apostle Paul said that to live is Christ but to die is gain (Philippians 1:21). From the moment of our conception until the moment of our departure, the Lord is with us, His angels are around us, and His care for us never ceases.

The dying saint is a special delivery package, entrusted into the keeping of the powerful angels, and they will handle us with care. It will be a short trip, right into the presence of our Savior where we will at last see His face (Revelation 22:4).

An old Gospel song says:

When done with the toils and cares of this life,

When ended the turmoil, the sin and the strife;

The angels will carry me over the tide,

And ever with Jesus my soul shall abide.6


1“Billy Graham Tells the Story,” Sermon Central, January 16, 2005.

2Billy Graham, Angels: God’s Secret Agents (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1975).

3Trudy Harris, “A Hospice Nurse Finds Glimpses of Heaven in Caregiving,” Guideposts, April 2010.

4Michael Matthews, The Great Privilege of a Dying Believer (Nottingham: John Collyer Printer, 1715), 10-11.

5Davis W. Clark, Deathbed Scenes (New York: G. Lane & L. Scott, 1851), 423.

6Mrs. Clint Shelton, “The Angels Are Coming For Me,” 1924.

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